Pubdate: Mon, 27 Nov 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Geordon Omand
Page: S2


B.C. cannabis company has wait-list of 1,500 orders, but some experts
warn such illegal seasonal novelties pose potential health risks

A Vancouver cannabis company is scrambling to keep up with a flood of
orders for marijuana-filled Advent calendars, but the novel take on a
popular Christmas tradition has some health experts ringing alarm bells.

Lorilee Fedler of Coast to Coast Medicinals said she's been
overwhelmed by the response since launching the holiday calendars
earlier this month.

"We just wanted something fun and different for adults," Ms. Fedler
said, adding that she came up with the idea after seeing versions
containing beer.

The company, which is unlicensed, has sold 150 calendars, with 300
more orders ready for processing on top of a waiting list of about
1,500 people, Ms. Fedler said.

"We didn't expect it to be so popular," she added,

Coast to Coast offers the Advent calendars packed with only marijuana
flowers, only edibles, such as cannabis-infused gingerbread men and
snowflake cookies, or a combination of the two. They cost between $200
to $230.

The calendars are illegal but Ms. Fedler said she isn't concerned
about a crackdown, and police have not contacted her. The federal
government has yet to finalize legislation around restricting the
marketing of marijuana ahead of its proposed legalization date of July
1, 2018.

Last week, Health Canada unveiled a set of proposed regulations that
would, among other things, limit colours and graphics on cannabis
packages and require stark health warnings like those found on tobacco

Rebecca Jesseman of the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
said the emergence of such Advent calendars illustrates the gaps that
exist in the current law.

"The biggest concern is it's not a regulated product," Ms. Jesseman
said. "We're talking about a product that has not gone through quality
testing, so there's no way to be certain as to what's in the product
in terms of the levels of THC and other cannabinoids, so what the
level of intoxication will be."

Another concern is the risk of contaminants including pesticides,
mould and fungus, she said.

Mark Haden, a professor in the School of Population and Public Health
at the University of British Columbia, said Canada needs to allow for
access without endorsement when it comes to the marijuana industry,
and allowing decorated, cannabis-filled calendars is a step in the
wrong direction.

"We don't want to criminalize it. We don't want to promote it. We want
to make it boring," he said.

"We do not make it boring with advent calendars."

Prof. Haden also expressed concern over the risk of appealing to kids.
"It's reasonable to assume that Advent calendars will be opened by
children," he added. "That is not a good idea."

Ms. Fedler said she chose to include warning labels on her product and
avoided a child-friendly design in anticipation of the federal

"We didn't make ours like the classic Santa or the reindeer or the
snowman. We made ours like an ugly Christmas sweater," Ms. Fedler said.

"I can see [it being a problem] if we made it a copycat of the kids'
calendar and put some weed edibles in there, but we took it
differently so it was not so attractive to the kids."

Ms. Fedler said she has received orders from across Canada and around
the world, including Ireland, the Philippines and the United States,
though she is only distributing domestically.

Lindsay Meredith, a professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University's
business school, described the Advent calendar as a marketing coup.

"You've not seen anything yet, believe me. The tsunami is on the way,"
Prof. Meredith said. "You're going to see a lot more of this develop.
This advent calendar is a snappy little way of getting the brand name
out there and keeping it out there."
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MAP posted-by: Matt